France pitches crypto oversight powers for EU markets and securities agency

The French government on Tuesday suggested that the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) be empowered with oversight powers of the economic bloc's crypto industry. 

France's financial markets regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), published a wide-ranging policy document on Tuesday. Among its suggestions: that "[d]irect supervision should also be granted to ESMA whenever the EU decides to regulate a financial activity, profession or type of product that was previously unregulated." 

The AMF went on to say:

"In such case, it makes sense to build regulatory expertise at ESMA level from the outset. For instance, should an EU framework be established to regulate providers of non-financial data, ratings and services in the future, it would be legitimate to entrust ESMA with authorisation and supervision tasks in relation to the entities covered by that framework. Likewise, granting ESMA the power of direct supervision of public offers of crypto-assets in the EU (scrutiny of white papers) and of crypto-asset service providers would create obvious economies of scale for all national supervisors and concentrate expertise in an efficient way, for the common European benefit."

For years, ESMA has proposed policy avenues in the area of digital assets, preparing reports on specific subjects and issuing warnings to would-be investors of initial coin offerings, for example. As such, the kind of regulatory expertise referred to by the AMF already exists, in some fashion, at ESMA today.

The EU formally proposed a regulatory framework for crypto assets last fall. 

In March, ESMA issued a statement, reiterating past warnings about investments in unregulated crypto assets.